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Bioeconomy Science Centre founded

Aachen, Bonn, Düsseldorf and Jülich are cooperating in an integrative research network that is unparalleled in Europe.

German version

21 October 2010 – Today marks the inauguration of the Bioeconomy Science Centre (BioSC) in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is the first centre in Europe that will conduct research for a sustainable bioeconomy using an integrative overall concept. The partners in the centre are Forschungszentrum Jülich, the universities of Bonn and Düsseldorf, and RWTH Aachen University. In BioSC, they are pooling the expertise of more than 50 of their institutes. Together, they will work on the key topics of an environmentally friendly economy based on renewable raw materials.

By 2050, twice as much food will be required as today in order to feed the world population. The effects of climate change will be clearly felt and the reserves of fossil resources will be drastically reduced. In this situation, renewable raw materials will play a key role for food, production processes and energy supply. The central topics for BioSC are therefore the sustainable production of plants, new methods of processing biomass and the use of microorganisms for producing useful materials. The partners will also work on issues of the economic implementation of the bioeconomy and its acceptance in society.

The more than 1000 employees working at BioSC and the other partners yet to come on board from science and industry are taking a systemic approach to these topics. They are combining their special expertise on the basis of a common strategy and are investigating in an interdisciplinary manner how new biologically based products and processes can be established. This is unparalleled in Europe. Prof. Ulrich Schurr, Forschungszentrum Jülich, one of the founding directors of BioSc said: "We shall, for example, be investigating how valued-added chains can be efficiently linked in order to sustainably produce food and feedstuff, raw or useful materials, and also bioenergy". For this approach to be successful not only is scientific expertise required but also a state-of-the-art infrastructure. Such technology platforms are already operational in genetic analysis, the quantification and selection of plant properties (phenotyping), bioanalytics, soil and groundwater characterization, field trials, process engineering for renewable raw materials and in supercomputing. The partners in the new centre will use them jointly.
The interlinkage of biomass production, processing and product development is particularly important for the bioeconomy. BioSc represents the first consortium with a specific range of expertise and the infrastructure necessary to deal competently with individual issues in context. Prof. Ulrich Schurr added: "When, for example, an engineer from Aachen is planning a new method for processing plant biomass, the partners from Bonn can grow this biomass sustainably, while Düsseldorf and Jülich can optimize the plant properties, and economists can investigate the criteria which make the process economic and what social aspects need to be considered".

The members intend to establish multi- and interdisciplinary integrative training in bioeconomy for university graduates as soon as possible. This will, for example, enable engineers and economists to acquire the necessary background knowledge in biology and help biologists to develop an understanding of the methods of processing biomass. BioSC will therefore benefit from the partners' existing graduate schools whose topics interface with the bioeconomy.
Collaboration with industry is essential for a rapid economic implementation of research findings. This is where the BioSC partners contribute their contacts. A large number of medium-sized enterprises and global players have already expressed interest. Since the development of a bioeconomy represents a global challenge which can only be dealt with by international cooperation, BioSC is strategically expanding its collaborations with partners in academia and industry in both industrialized and newly industrializing countries.

More information on the Bioeconomy Science Centre:

Contacts for scientific topics

The Managing Directors:
Prof. Ulrich Schurr, Forschungszentrum Jülich
Prof. Ulrich Schwaneberg, RWTH Aachen University
Prof. Karl-Erich Jäger, University of Düsseldorf
Prof. Wulf Amelung, University of Bonn

Press contacts:
for Jülich:
Annette Stettien, Dr. Barbara Schunk,
Tel.: +49 2461 61 2388 or 8031

for Düsseldorf:
Dr. phil. Victoria Meinschäfer
Tel.: +49 211 8113253

for Aachen:
Toni Wimmer
Tel.: +49 241 80 94322 and 23

for Bonn:
Frank Luerweg
Tel.: +49 228 73 4728